On a recent stroll in Arkengarthdale, north of Reeth, we happened across the Red Lion in Langthwaite. The sort of small spick and span country pub that gladdens my heart. It’s wonderful that it looks so good given that head-high flood waters rushed through and almost destroyed the pub in 2019.
If pubs are to survive the new normal my feeling is that we all have to do our bit. Pubs shouldn’t feel alone, we all have to be in this together. So, we weren’t stopping but we did. Gelled up, boots wiped I went in for my 3 halves of Black Sheep Bitter and a half of lager. Every sale helps we thought. It was a friendly welcome from the owner and the beer was clear as a bell.
We sat down in the sun for our brief refreshment. A gulp of mine suggested it wasn’t quite right and Mrs TWM’s impeccable tastebuds confirmed the diagnosis.
I’m always wary of those very infrequent occasions (about once a year) when I’ve taken a beer back. I’ve had bar staff in a now former GBG pub holding up the beer to the light and loudly declaring to the bar and colleagues, it’s fine. (A later apology just a little too late.) I’ve had the ‘there’s a CAMRA chap in. I’ll ask him’, response in a brewery tap. i.e. the punter knows nothing and you shouldn’t bring it back.
I gathered up the beers and went back in the Red Lion. “Sorry, but I think your Black Sheeps gone”, says I, exuding technical knowledge…not. Now remember this is from a bloke who’s only bought four halves. A tight spender from out of town. I received a response that should be in every pub chain’s training manual.
“It might be the end of the barrel, sometime it’s alright to the last pint and sometimes it isn’t. I’ll go and check”. After a while the landlady comes back with a bucket in hand confirming it needed a new barrel. A bucketful pulled through and then a near half put on the bar. “Try that please”, was the friendly instruction. I declared it perfect. “Well you best finish it”, and so I did as my replacement three halves were pulled.
It was my best pub experience of the last few years. A small event of enormous generosity that we need to all match in my view. Let’s be kind to each other and our pubs as we get through these difficult times. If the Red Lion and its indomitable women can get through head-high floods of destruction and come out smiling, the rest of us can make an effort to support them and their ilk.
Please support the Pub.